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Top 15 Things to Do in Italy

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The Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

The Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

From immersive tours of ancient Rome to the intricacies of artisanal crafts, Italian gastronomy to breathtaking national parks, the top 15 things to do in Italy let travelers unravel the country’s beauty and culture.

You can witness more Unesco World Heritage Sites than in any other country or sample the enticing flavors of celebrated Italian wines. Art, architecture, gastronomy, history, and heritage highlight the depth of Italy’s quintessential allure, with a range of experiences that stretch from the Dolomite Mountains in the north to the shores of Sicily’s Lido Mazzaro in the south.

Discover the top 15 things to do in Italy for a majestic and authentic experience that brings Italian culture and unique experiences to the forefront.

Overview
  1. 1. Explore Ancient Sites and Ruins Across Italy
  2. 2. Discover the Nuances of Regional Italian Cuisine
  3. 3. Wander Historic Vatican City Sites
  4. 4. Stand Beneath Juliet's Balcony in Verona
  5. 5. Go Truffle Hunting in Search of the Seasonal Favorite
  6. 6. Taste Distinct, Prominent, and Varied Italian Wines
  7. 7. Pair Local Italian Cheeses with Fine Wine
  8. 8. Taste Authentic Italian Olive Oil in Heritage Towns
  9. 9. Learn to Make Neapolitan Pizza in Naples
  10. 10. Try Your Hand at Traditional Italian Pasta
  11. 11. Explore Famous Italian Art and Take an Inspiring Class
  12. 12. Train Like a Gladiator in the Roman Colosseum
  13. 13. Embrace Italian Fashion in the Shopping Districts
  14. 14. Plunge into the Depths of Winding Catacombs
  15. 15. Savor Romance with a Venetian Gondola Ride
  16. Experience the Top Things to Do in Italy

1. Explore Ancient Sites and Ruins Across Italy

Ruins of an ancient Greek theater. View of Mount Etna. Tarmina, Sicily

The Greek Theatre of Taormina in Italy

Italy feels contemporary, yet powerfully connected to its past, with many ancient sites and ruins to explore on your Italy tours.

Whether interested in the reunification of the nation in the late 19th century, the Catholic state’s powerful influence, the Renaissance, the Etruscans, the Greeks, or the Roman Empire, each region highlights its storied, cultural roots. The past of each town, city, and region informs their present, with ancient history coming alive at the Roman Forum on Rome Tours & Vacations or the Greek Syracuse Archaeological Site on Sicily Tours & Vacations.

From the crumbling columns of the Colosseum to the desolate ruined village of Pompeii, Etruscan tombs to Greek ruins, exploring ancient sites and ruins in Italy is one of the top things to do on a historical tour.

Best Ancient Sites & Ruins: The Colosseum • The Pantheon • Pompeii • Herculaneum • Ostia Antica • The Roman Forum • The Baths of Diocletian • Paestum • Valley of the Temples

Learn more: Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Visit in Italy

2. Discover the Nuances of Regional Italian Cuisine

 Popular tuscan cuisine, Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Italy’s cuisine is famous for its simple ingredients and impeccable recipes that result in wonderful flavors, but the specific culinary traditions vary between northern, central, and southern Italian regions.

The gastronomy of Italy showcases the diverse artisanal cuisine of local communities and is revealed in the kitchens of locals in a city, village, or classic Italian town. From dishes like Sicilian cannoli on a southern Italian island to risotto alla Milanese in the northern Italian countryside of Lombardy, you can explore the regional flavors during your travels.

The unique soils and ingredients in each region of Italy mean the resulting cuisine will bring to light the traditions of different communities, offering distinctive recipes and dynamic flavors. Discover the culinary nuances as you tour all of Italy or enjoy the unique regional flavors on Northern Italy Tours & Vacations or Southern Italy Tours & Vacations.

Best Dishes to Try in Northern Italy: Risotto alla Milanese, Lombardy • Trofie al Pesto, Liguria • Ragu' alla Bolognese, Emilia-Romagna

Best Dishes to Try in Central Italy: Spaghetti alIa Carbonara, Rome • Bistecca alla Fiorentina, Florence • Strozzapreti con Tartufi, Umbria

Best Dishes to Try in Southern Italy: Cannoli, Sicily • Pizza Margherita, Naples • Taralli Pugliesi, Puglia

Learn more: Italy Food ToursTypes of Italian Food by Region

3. Wander Historic Vatican City Sites

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Italy

The Vatican City is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and the greatest reservoir of Catholic heritage. Exploring the historic museums and spiritual sites is a top thing to do while visiting Italy.

From the Vatican Museums to the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms to St. Peter's Basilica, there are so many religious sites and spiritual grounds to discover during your tours of the Vatican. The intricate murals, elaborate sculptures, and ornate altars are treasure troves of history to unravel as you wander from one exhibition to the next.

Exploring the Vatican City on Italy Tours from Rome is a highlight for your vacation in Italy, revealing the spiritual significance of the smallest country in the world.

Best Vatican Sites to Visit: The Vatican Museums • The Sistine Chapel • The Raphael Rooms • St. Peter's Basilica • The Pio-Clementine Museum

4. Stand Beneath Juliet's Balcony in Verona

Juliet’s House in Verona, Italy

Juliet’s House in Verona, Italy

Juliet’s House is an ancient Gothic building that inspired the setting for the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet. It is an iconic place to see on tours that bring travelers to the romantic neighborhoods of Verona.

Standing beneath Juliet’s balcony with your partner, you can embrace the legend of the star-crossed lovers as expressed in the famous play. A bronze statue of Juliet memorializes the character and hundreds of letters plaster a passageway known as Juliet’s Wall. While you are not permitted to stick letters up, you can read the endearing messages to Juliet left by couples passing the house.

You can add to the charm of Romantic Italy Tours for Couples by passing through the Venetian city of Verona for a tour of Juliet’s House and the city’s many highlights.

Best Sights to See in Verona: Juliet’s House • The Verona Arena • Piazza delle Erbe • Castelvecchio • The Basilica di San Zeno • The Ponte Pietra

5. Go Truffle Hunting in Search of the Seasonal Favorite

Truffle hunting in Alba, Italy.

Truffle hunting in Alba, Italy

Italy’s fascinating scenery supports the growth of a variety of truffles, white and black, and truffle hunting is a fun thing to do in Italy with family or as a romantic experience for couples, complete with dinner highlighting the seasonal ingredient.

Truffles thrive at the base of rolling hills, across the moist soils of soaring cliffs, and among the roots of bountiful forests. The prized truffle grows slowly in the dark underbrush of damp soils. They emerge symbiotically with certain trees, such as oak and hazelnut found throughout Italy, making a truffle hunt a fun, unique, and easy activity to enjoy, in addition to the marvelous flavor enjoyed with dishes like pasta, risotto, or eggs.

The connection between climate and environment has made Italy a fantastic destination for truffles that grow wild across various regions. Timing your trip at the right time, you can explore the 6 Truffle Festivals to Visit During a Vacation in Italy to complete your truffle-hunting experience.

Best Places for Truffle Hunting: Piedmont • Tuscany • Le Marche • Umbria • Molise • Emilia-Romagna

Learn more: What You Need to Know About Truffle Hunting Tours in Italy

6. Taste Distinct, Prominent, and Varied Italian Wines

Vineyards around Castello della Volta on the hills outside Barolo in the Langhe wine region of Piedmont, Italy.

Vineyards around Castello della Volta on the hills outside Barolo in the Langhe wine region of Piedmont, Italy.

Italy is like the Wild West of wines, with approximately 350 registered varietals and more than 2,000 types of grapes, making wine tasting one of the best things to do in Italy on vacation.

Each wine has a specific purpose, ingrained in the different regions' cultural heritage, resulting in various textures, aromas, and flavors. The institutionalized growth and consumption of wine around the Italian Peninsula date back to the arrival of the Greeks in southern Italy in the 8th century BC. Through the millennia, wine has become associated with Italian culture and you can embrace the daily culture during tasting tours of Italy.

The diversity of wines in Italy means you can unveil the characteristics of many distinct wines as you explore the Top 4 Wine-tasting Regions in Italy and beyond. From Piedmont to Tuscany, Sicily to Alto Adige, enjoy the Top 4 Wine Tasting Experiences in Italy, which reveal the world-famous qualities of each vintage.

Best Places for Wine Tasting: Piedmont • Tuscany • Sicily • Alto Adige

Learn more: Italy Wine ToursBest Time to Visit Italy for a Wine Tour

7. Pair Local Italian Cheeses with Fine Wine

Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma, Italy

Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma, Italy

Tasting and pairing Italian cheeses with wine is another culinary favorite to make our list of the top things to do during your trip.

The entire Italian peninsula has over 400 different kinds of cheese and each region specializes in its own variety and methods of production. While you may be familiar with classics like mozzarella and parmesan, Italy has a wide assortment classified by texture, age, and processing, with histories dating back to the Roman empire more than two millennia ago.

Italy’s mountains, coastline, and plains support the unique characteristics of the various cheeses for which each region is known. As you explore Italy’s famous cheese-making areas, you can pair each bite of your charcuterie board with delectable wines grown in the regions you visit.

Best Cheeses to Try in Italy: Mozzarella, Naples • Gorgonzola, Lombardy • Parmigiano Reggiano, Parma • Pecorino Toscano, Tuscany • Ricotta, Sicily

Learn more: Italy Food & Wine Tours

8. Taste Authentic Italian Olive Oil in Heritage Towns

Olive oil and olives on a wooden table in an olive grove.

Tuscany, Italy

Olive oil’s origins trace back to the Mediterranean Basin and Italy is home to the world’s greatest abundance of quality olive oil.

Its rich heritage in the Mediterranean climate supports the wealth of farmers and producers in the warm south of Sicily and the colder foothills of the Italian Alps. The regional qualities of olives shift across Italy depending on the town in which you choose to drizzle the oil over a bruschetta. Olive-tasting tours in these heritage towns will introduce you to their unique manufacturing processes and highlight their timeless recipes and traditions.

Whether wandering the golden sunflower hills on Tuscany Tours & Vacations or retreating to the shimmering waters of Lake Garda, you can unravel what makes Italian olive oil special.

Best Places for Olive Oil Tasting: Tuscany • Liguria • Lake Garda • Puglia • Sicily

9. Learn to Make Neapolitan Pizza in Naples

Neapolitan pizza margherita in a traditional wood oven in Naples restaurant

Neapolitan pizza in Naples, Italy

Italy has a profound connection with pizza, the legend of its creation dating back to the 19th century, with Naples’ Neapolitan pizza becoming a signature dish for the country. In Naples, you can learn the secrets behind the perfect Neapolitan pizza and make your own following the instructions of a local chef.

Pizza makers from around the world visit Naples, the capital of the Campania region, on pilgrimages to learn the art of making quality pizza the traditional way. Naples will give you the foundation thereof, from which you can then discover the flavors and varieties of pizza you prefer by showcasing the art and practicality of the dish.

Fun for the entire family or an excellent option for couples honing their culinary skills, Neapolitan pizza classes in Naples showcase why there is no better place in the world for a cheesy slice of this favorite.

Best Types of Italian Pizza: Neapolitan Pizza, Naples • Pizza alla Pala, Rome • Panzerotti, Puglia • Pizza alla Padellino, Torino • Pizza Siciliana, Sicily

Learn more: 5 Dishes to Try on Your Trip to Naples

10. Try Your Hand at Traditional Italian Pasta

Making orecchiette pasta in Puglia, Italy

Making orecchiette pasta in Puglia, Italy

Pasta is an integral part of the Italian diet, with more than 350 types of noodles, and making your own pasta is one of the best things to do in Italy to connect with local culinary heritage.

The wealth of varieties in Italy makes each region a specialist in different dishes, using specific shapes and textures. Some noodles are better for dishes with rich sauces, while others are better suited to clingy, melted cheese. As you explore more of Italy, you will familiarize yourself with the diverse types of pasta and their individual qualities. Adding a pasta-making class to your trip adds to the magic of experiencing the food.

From ravioli to cannoli, tagliatelle to gnocchi, you can learn to make your favorite type of pasta with a cooking class built around your preferences.

Best Pasta Dishes to Try in Italy: Spaghetti alIa Carbonara, Rome • Lasagne alla Bolognese, Emilia-Romagna • Tortelli di Zucca, Lombardy • Paccheri al Forno, Campania • Gnocchi alla Gorgonzola, Piedmont

Learn more: 10 Most Popular Types of Pasta to Try On Vacation in Italy

11. Explore Famous Italian Art and Take an Inspiring Class

Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery of Florence

Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery of Florence

The connection Italy has to the art world is unparalleled, with Roman mosaics, masterworks of the Renaissance, and captivating images of Baroque grandeur to explore, and art classes bring you closer to the country’s creativity.

Florence and Rome are iconic cities for celebrated Italian art. Florence is known as the Cradle of the Renaissance and houses a number of renowned works, from Michelangelo’s David to Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Rome offers the ultimate inspiration in mosaics, frescoes, and sculptures, with images of Raphael’s School of Athens to Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers. These are many famous pieces to discover during your travels.

An art class in Italy gives you a chance to follow the processes of artistic legends, mirroring the wonder of artistic creation, be it in the colors of Murano glass sculptures, the ancient Etruscan-inspired ceramics, or more of the top 10 Italian Arts & Crafts

Best Art Galleries in Italy: The Uffizi Gallery • The Accademia Gallery • The Capitoline Museums • The Galleria Borghese • The Murano Glass Museum

12. Train Like a Gladiator in the Roman Colosseum

 Two gladiators fighting.

Rome, Italy

The thought of being a gladiator can fulfill a childhood dream and evoke images of immense crowds roaring in the Colosseum of Rome.

The exciting prospect of family-friendly gladiator training differs from the true history of the Roman games. During such an activity, you learn skills during a vigorous training process that once taught gladiators how to fight. Instructors immerse you in the ancient world with period clothing and replicated memorabilia in an outdoor training ground. The prism of historical strength shines through each round of training as the coaches guide you through offensive and defensive techniques.

The ancient foundations of the city of Rome give visitors an excellent opportunity to merge fun activities with historical sites. Here, you can not only train like a gladiator, but explore the Colosseum’s Hypogeum, where real gladiators once trained and waited for their matches to begin, on Italy Family Vacations & Tour Packages.

Best Roman Sites in Italy for Families: The Colosseum • The Hypogeum • The Roman Forum • The Pantheon

Learn more: Rome Family Vacations

13. Embrace Italian Fashion in the Shopping Districts

Men’s luxury shop.

Milan, Italy

There are fewer places more iconic than Italy for high-end shopping, as the country is one of the world's fashion capitals. From world-famous brands to up-and-coming luxury boutiques, Italian fashion is a part of the culture to explore in shopping districts.

The phrase “Made in Italy” personifies status, quality, and style. Fashion focuses on design for men and women, with unique flourishes in jewelry, shoes, and bags. Each region specializes in different types of fashion accessories, from footwear to furniture.

From historic Italian cobblers to coveted global designers, you can experience the height of Italian shopping and fashion on Milan Vacations.

Best Fashion Districts in Italy: Via Monte Napoleone, Milan • Via Del Corso, Rome • Via Toledo, Naples • Mercerie, Venice

Learn more: What to Wear in Italy: How to Dress Like a Local and Appreciate the Italian Aesthetic

14. Plunge into the Depths of Winding Catacombs

Fresco on the wall of an Etruscan tomb in Tarquinia, Italy.

Etruscan tomb in Tarquinia, Italy

A catacombs tour in Italy immerses you in the unique combination of discovering the lesser-known civilizations and traditions that are hidden beneath modern life.

Etruscan tombs, Roman chambers, early Christian labyrinths, and Capuchin crypts reveal the various ways cultures have followed unique customs throughout history on the Italian peninsula. Etruscan necropolises date as far back as the 7th century BC. Each hall or chamber provides insight into thousands of years of history, which is revealed in those buried, the techniques used, the customs preserved, and the paraphernalia uncovered.

From the Tarquinia for Etruscan burial grounds to the Appian Way for early Christian burial images, the best catacombs capture more than just famous legends that once belonged to the outskirts of the ancient city. Instead, they reveal the depths of ancient religious rituals through preserved burial rites and images. Exploring the history of these phenomenal sites is one of the top things to do on Italy Tours for Seniors.

Best Catacombs in Italy: The Catacombs of Saint Sebastian • The Catacomb of Callixtus • The Capuchin Crypt • The Vatican Necropolis

15. Savor Romance with a Venetian Gondola Ride

Gondola ride thru the canals of Venice, Italy.

Venice, Italy

Gondolas remain an elegant representation of Venice, with a history that dates back to the 11th century. A romantic gondola cruise along the canals is one of the top things to do in Italy on tours that include a Venetian getaway.

The best gondoliers know the backwaters away from the noise and rocky waters of the Grand Canal and crowds that swarm the Rialto Bridge. These experts can take you alongside the backstreets to reveal the quieter majesty or historic facades that are often overlooked around the city. Whether relaxing in a gondola or learning how to navigate the boat like a traditional gondolier, a gondola tour has become an essential way to experience Venice.

Venice is the only place in the world where you can ride an authentic gondola. The canals are more than 1,200 years old and provide a unique view of the city’s layers, from the aristocratic neighborhoods to former defensive walls, the Jewish ghetto to the boatyard where artisan craftspeople continue making the elegant boats by hand. It is a truly enchanting experience to plan for your Italy Honeymoon Packages & Itineraries.

Best Sights to See in Venice: The Bridge of Sighs • The Doge's Palace • Saint Mark's Basilica • Grand Canal • Rialto Bridge

Learn more: Venice Tours and VacationsA Guide to Planning a Gondola Ride in Venice

Experience the Top Things to Do in Italy

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy

From exploring the art galleries housing ancient and evocative pieces to discovering the delicious flavors of Italian cuisine, experience the top things to do on Italy Tours & Vacations that take you to the 7 Best Places to Visit in Italy and beyond.

When planning with a travel specialist, you can arrange a trip during the Best Time to Visit Italy and let your destination expert organize every step of the way. For more helpful information and tips for traveling in Italy, explore our Italy Travel Guide.

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